2021’s Dramatic First Week
The Senate runoffs in the state of Georgia dominated the news early this week as Wall Street braces itself for a Blue Wave.
What’s going on in America right now?
I had ‘Georgia On My Mind’ all week (seriously, why are there so many songs about Georgia?) On Thursday, Congress announced President-elect Biden as the winner of the 2020 election following chaotic protests in Washington as Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol building. The victories by Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have given the Democrats control of both the House and Senate, which will ensure that President-elect Joe Biden will have an easier time enacting his economic agenda. A Republican-controlled Senate would have been good news for investors as they would have likely watered down any policies from Biden's economic agenda — like higher corporate taxes. On the other hand, the Democratic win might not be bad for the economy either as Biden promised that $2,000 stimulus checks would “go out the door” if Democrat representatives Warnock and Ossoff were to win. Despite the ensuing trouble in Washington, the markets rose on Thursday as investors looked forward to more clarity in government leadership. Seriously, it's only the first week of 2021...
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Twitter blocked President Trump's account on Wednesday after freezing three of his tweets about the protests in Washington so they could not be shared. A couple of hours later, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also blocked the former President.
Digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin surged over $40,000 today for the first time ever as the total value of the cryptocurrency market surpassed $1 trillion this week.
Why is Bitcoin exploding now?
Bitcoin has had a phenomenal start to 2021 as the value of one Bitcoin crossed the $40,000 mark this week. So what brought on the record-breaking rally? Well, it’s a bit like when you were at a school dance and people didn’t start dancing until the popular kids did. Investors now feel more confident buying Bitcoin because Wall Street billionaires and huge financial companies like PayPal and Fidelity are now publicly backing it. Recently, many previous Bitcoin-bashers have come around, including JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon who called Bitcoin a “fraud” in 2017 and is now predicting the cryptocurrency could trade as high as $146,000. Increased regulation in the crypto space has also helped. If you are thinking about buying Bitcoin and are not fully informed about this volatile market, we’d like to bring you back to early 2018 when more than $60 billion was wiped off the value of the entire cryptocurrency market in just 24 hours just after the first Bitcoin bubble in late 2017 and early 2018.
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May 22 is celebrated as ‘Bitcoin Pizza Day’ because the first official documented purchase of goods, two Papa John’s pizzas, using Bitcoin occurred on that date back in 2010. Back then the worth of 10,000 Bitcoin was only $41, now it's around $369.4 million.
When it wasn’t blocking presidential accounts, Twitter was making acquisitions, announcing this week that it has acquired social broadcasting app Breaker for $300 million.
Why is Twitter getting into podcasts?
Podcasting seems to be the new battleground for Big Tech, and Twitter is the next player. The deal will help the social media site “improve the health of the public conversation” on the service, as well as work on Twitter’s new audio-based networking project, Twitter Spaces. Breaker transformed the podcast space into a community by allowing listeners to interact with a podcast by liking, commenting on episodes, following friends, and sharing favorite shows on their social media. With the deal, Twitter gains fresh talent and technology as it launches into a buzzy new market in 2021 for voice-based social networking — which has grown in popularity due to people being stuck at home. Those in the know say that Twitter is currently trying to solve the more difficult problems associated with hosting live audio, an issue it has famously struggled with over the years. Twitter rants are about to get a hell of a lot louder…
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Co-founder of Breaker, Erik Berlin, got the idea for the app whilst working at Soundcloud where he saw the company moving away from podcasts, which he knew was a bad idea.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal this week, brand-agnostic Roku is in advanced talks to acquire the ill-fated content library of 2020 failure supreme, Quibi.
Just one question: why?
Always the butt of the joke, Quibi was an over-the-top, short-form streaming platform that produced content for viewing on mobile devices. This attracted major celebrities to star in its content but only managed to garner 500,000 subscribers. Just because Quibi failed though, doesn’t mean that short-form video isn’t worth chasing. The beauty of Roku’s business model is that it doesn’t matter who is winning between the big streamers like Netflix and Disney. The more people watching content the better, and now it could have its own content that doesn’t really upset the big names either. It’s early days yet, and no deal is confirmed, but should Roku pull it off and manage to take a beaten-down library like Quibi’s and turn it into a success on its platform, it will be an amazing achievement. It will also elevate it to one of the heavy hitters in a new age of media. Time will tell...
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As of Q3 2020, Roku has 47 million subscribers, which is 94 times what Quibi had at its peak.
Just one day after making a u-turn on its decision to delist three Chinese telecom companies, the New York Stock Exchange changed its mind again on Wednesday by declaring it will, after all, delist China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. Trump kicked off the saga back in November when he dubbed the three companies “Communist Chinese military companies.” The Treasury instructed the NYSE to remove the Chinese-owned companies from all U.S. exchanges after receiving intense pressure from a campaign which stated that any companies tied to the Chinese military shouldn't benefit from American investment. The NYSE said that both reversals had been prompted by confusion over whether the companies subsidiaries should also be banned. The Treasury has since confirmed that all subsidiaries must be blocked from all U.S. exchanges resulting in the three companies now being delisted. We haven’t seen this many ups and downs in a plot since Ross and Rachel’s famous ‘will they, won’t they’ in ‘Friends’.
How’s everything else in China?
While we’re on the subject of China, where is Jack Ma?! The co-founder of Alibaba was something of a unicorn in the country: a charismatic leader who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and push boundaries. Unfortunately, that attitude has put himself and his business at huge risk. It all began back in October when Ma openly criticized China's regulators at a conference in Shanghai by declaring that Chinese authorities were stifling innovation. At the time, the tech tycoon’s financial tech firm, Ant Group, was preparing for the world's largest IPO. However, China hit back promptly by canceling the IPO and summoning Ma to a meeting. As a result, his business has been ordered to restructure and has also become the subject of antitrust allegations. Ma has not been seen in public since the conference in Shanghai, but reports say that Ma is ‘lying low’ — I tried that line on my manager, no luck, I was sent straight back to work.
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Jack Ma was apparently kidnapped on his first trip to Los Angeles. After he was sent to retrieve a debt for a friend from an American businessman he was held against his will at gunpoint.